News / Economy

US Unemployment Benefits Set to Run Out

Out-of-work Americans will lose federal assistance unless Congress extends it

More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent.
More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans will see their federal unemployment benefits expire this week, and millions more by the end of the year, unless Congress acts to extend them.

The payments are designed to provide the jobless with just enough temporary income to cover basic needs while they look for work. Congress has repeatedly prolonged the duration of those payments amid high U.S. unemployment but another extension is far from assured.

More than a year into a weak economic recovery, the unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent. Millions of Americans have been without work for a year or more, taking a severe financial - and often emotional - blow.

In Pennsylvania, unemployed sales manager Gregg Rosen has cut back on everything from food to medication, and can no longer help support his disabled mother.

"That devastates me," he said.

Many idled workers are frustrated.

"I've been out looking for work every day, and I'm just not getting anywhere," said one unemployed worker in Rhode Island.

President Barack Obama has consistently pressed Congress to extend federal benefits for the unemployed. "We've got a responsibility to help them make ends meet and support their families even as they are looking for another job," he said.

But Capitol Hill is bracing for a repeat of the last extension battle in July, when Republicans objected to further benefits unless other federal spending was cut by an equal amount.

"The bill before us today is the ninth extension of unemployment benefits since mid-2008," said Rep. Charles Boustany, a Louisiana Republican. "And with the exception of just one bill last November, every one of those extensions was not paid for. That's a total of $135 billion added to our $14 trillion debt."

Analysts note that unemployment benefits are meant to be temporary, but the severity of the recession and the slow pace of the economic recovery have led many Americans to rely on the program for a prolonged period.

"People say 'You do not want to discourage people from looking for work by giving them too generous an income replacement,'" says Eric Toder, an economist and former U.S. Treasury official. "I think the feeling is now that there isn't 10 percent unemployment because people aren't looking for work. There is high unemployment because there aren't jobs."

Toder adds that the unemployed usually spend all the benefits they receive, providing stimulus to the economy as a whole.

Extending unemployment benefits is but one of many items Democrats hope to achieve in a brief end-of-year congressional session. Passage is considered likely in the House of Representatives, but questionable in the Senate, where Republicans can use procedural motions to block legislation.

Some jobless workers have mounted protests in the past to press for an extension of benefits, and say they stand ready to do so again - even at a cost to their pride.

"You know I'm not used to this," said one unemployed woman who was among the protesters. "I don't want to be begging people."

Most economists expect the unemployment rate to remain above nine percent for months to come.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8893
JPY
USD
118.31
GBP
USD
0.6660
CAD
USD
1.2459
INR
USD
61.427

Rates may not be current.